Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 43: Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
TO THE MOST NOBLE AND TRULY CHRISTIAN PRINCE,
EDWARD, DUKE OF SOMERSET,
EARL OF HERTFORD, etc. PROTECTOR OF ENGLAND
AND IRELAND, AND ROYAL TUTOR,
OFFERS HIS SALUTATIONS.
The brilliant reputation, most noble Prince, not only of your other virtues, altogether heroic, but especially of your distinguished piety, produces so warm a love of you in the hearts of all good men, even of those to whom you are unknown by face, that you must unavoidably be regarded with extraordinary affection and reverence by all right-minded persons in the kingdom of England, on whom hath been bestowed the privilege, not only of beholding with their eyes those benefits which are admired by others who only hear of them, but likewise of reaping all the advantage which a most excellent governor can confer on the whole body of the people, and on every one of its members. Nor is there any reason why the praises bestowed on you should be suspected of falsehood, as if they proceeded from flatterers; for a clear proof of them is to be found in your actions.
When a pupil belongs to private life, and his wealth is moderate, the work of a tutor is attended by difficulty; but you hold the office of tutor, not of the King only, but of a very large kingdom, and you discharge that office with such wisdom and skill, that all are astonished at your success. That your virtue might not shine merely amidst the laws, and in a peaceful state of the commonwealth, God has exhibited it to view in war also, which has hitherto been conducted by you with not less prosperity and valor.
Yet the great and numerous difficulties which every person readily perceived that you had experienced did not hinder you from making the restoration of religion your principal object. That consideration is certainly not less advantageous to the public benefit of the kingdom than it is worthy of a Prince; for then do kingdoms enjoy solid prosperity and faithful guardianship, when he, on whom they were founded, and by whom they are preserved — the Son of God himself — rules over them. Thus you could not have established more firmly the kingdom of England than by banishing idols and setting up there the pure worship of God; for the true doctrine of godliness, which had too long been crushed and buried by the sacrilegious tyranny of the Roman Antichrist, cannot but be restored; and what is that, but to place Christ on his throne? And this act, which in itself is excellent, is so much the more praiseworthy on account of the small number of rulers in the present day who own the subjection of their high rank to the spiritual scepter of Christ.
It was therefore a high advantage to this illustrious King, that such a person, related to him by blood, was the guide of his youth; for, although the noble character of his mind is universally applauded, yet, in training him to habits of manly firmness, and in regulating the English Church, so long as his tender age does not permit him to discharge these duties, such an instructor was much needed. And I doubt not that even now he acknowledges that you were given to him by the peculiar kindness of God, in order that he might soon afterwards receive his affairs from your hands in excellent condition.
For my own part, neither the distance of place nor my humble rank could prevent me from congratulating you on your distinguished success in promoting the glory of Christ. And since it has pleased God to make me one of those by whose labors and exertions he has, in the present day, given to the world the doctrine of the gospel in greater purity than before, why should I not, however widely I am separated from you, express as strongly as I can my reverence for you, who have been appointed, through the extraordinary kindness of God, to be the defender and protector of that very doctrine? And since I had no other proof of it to give, I thought that, at least as an earnest of my regard, it was my duty to offer to you my Commentaries on two of Paul’s Epistles. Nor have I selected at random the gift that I should offer, but, in the exercise of my judgment, have selected that which appeared to me to be the most suitable. Here Paul admonishes his beloved Timothy by what kind of doctrine he must edify the Church of God, what vices and enemies he must resist, and how many annoyances he must endure. He exhorts him to give way to no difficulties, to vanquish all dangers by courage, to restrain by authority the licentiousness of wicked men, and not to bestow gifts through eagerness to obtain their favor. In short, in these two Epistles we have the true government of the Church set before us in a lively picture.
Now, since in order to restore the English Church, which, along with almost every other part of Christendom, had been miserably corrupted by the shocking wickedness of Popery, you employ your strenuous efforts under the direction of your King, and for that purpose have many Timothys under your charge, neither they nor you can direct your holy transactions in a more profitable manner than by taking the rule here laid down by Paul for your pattern. For there is nothing in them that is not highly applicable to our times, and hardly anything that is necessary in the building of the Church that may not likewise be drawn from them. I trust that my labor will, at least, afford some assistance; but I choose that this should be known by experience rather than that I should boast of it in words. If you, most noble Prince, shall approve of it, I shall have abundant reason for congratulating myself; and your remarkable kindness does not permit me to doubt that you will take in good part that service which I now perform.
May the Lord, in whose hand are the ends of the earth, long uphold the safety and prosperity of the kingdom of England, adorn its illustrious King with the royal spirit, bestow on him a large measure of all blessings, and grant to you grace to persevere happily in your noble course, that through you his renown may be more and more widely extended.
Geneva, 25th July 1556.